I want to read more. I really do. But it’s easy to let myself off the hook, with all the responsibilities that come from having a gaggle of young children, a house to care for and work to do. But I also know that reading — good, solid, offline reading — adds a dimension to our lives that only books (or e-books) can offer. Let’s determine to find a way to make more time for them in the coming year.
Have a List
One thing that stalls my reading life is hemming and hawing about what I want to read next. And when I don’t have a book I’m into, it’s too easy to do something else, often something much less valuable, with my time. Having a concrete list of books you’ve decided to work your way down takes this glitch out of the equation. Blogger Modern Mrs. Darcy offers this list of categories to fill in when you’re choosing books in her 2018 Reading Challenge. But don’t underestimate the power of creating a simple, actual “to be read” list of books from the mental list you keep in your head.
Designate a Set Amount of Time to Read Every Day
Carving out the time to read rather than waiting for reading time to present itself is key. Make it a habit to read every morning or for an hour before you sleep, or during your lunch break. Slow and steady progress will see you through to your reading goals much more reliably than unplanned, sporadic bursts.
An alternative to promising yourself you’ll read for a certain amount of time each day is committing to reading a set number of pages per day. Or, try the 10 percent rule, where you read 10 percent of a book every day.
Decide What You Can Trade for Reading Time
To make more time for reading, you may have to deliberately cut down on the time you spend somewhere else. Would you feel more content swapping an hour you spend every week watching TV for an hour of reading time instead? Probably. Drop a show from your schedule (at least for now, you can binge it later) and be diligent to spend that same regular slot of time reading. Make it a date you wouldn’t miss.
Read on Your Device
Some die-hard readers wouldn’t dream of trading paper and ink for a screen, and as an English major who has walls lined with books, believe me, I get it. But the amount I read has drastically increased since my husband bought me a Kindle Paperwhite. It’s easy to read in bed without disturbing him (or the baby asleep next to me), I can read during road trips at night without fumbling for a book light, and I can bring every book I’m reading in a sleek little package when we travel. In addition, I have my books with me all the time because I can read them on the Kindle app on my phone. So forgetting to bring my book with me while I wait at the doctor’s office is never a problem anymore.
Get Good at Getting in the Zone
Sometimes it takes a while to get back into the reading habit, but if you’re aiming to really increase your reading time, you need to use those small moments in your day — the five- to fifteen-minute blasts of time — to read a few pages. Try to get good at diving into a book quickly. Practice this by doing it repeatedly and you’ll train your brain to switch gears with ease.
Avid readers love this quote by writer Ryan Holiday: “Reading must become as natural as eating and breathing to you. It’s not something you do because you feel like it, but because it’s a reflex, a default.”
Listen to Your Books
How much time do you spend in your car? You can spend that time “reading” by listening to audio books. The pile of books you’ve read will grow by leaps and bounds by putting your driving time to use.
Source Your Books Wisely
If the number of books you read increases dramatically (yay!) and you’re buying all those books, it can add up fast. Get books from your library, planning ahead by putting the ones on your list on hold. You can also borrow Kindle books and audio books from your local library without even stepping foot inside (there’s an app, Libby, that’s great for this).
Quit Books You Aren’t Enjoying
You’re reading for pleasure, so don’t be afraid to stop reading a book you aren’t enjoying. Slogging through a book that doesn’t speak to you will slow down your reading progress and also… just why? There are so many books that you’ll love out there, just waiting for you to open them!
What are your favorite ways to read more books?